How to talk to someone who is dying

Posted: 18/05/2018

If you know someone who is dying or terminally ill, it can extremely hard for you to know what to do, say or how to act. This is understandable, but what your friend or family member needs from you at this time is your full support and it is safe to say they would rather you treated them normally rather than with too much caution.

Not knowing what to say to someone is dying can cause families and friends a great deal of anxiety. You have known this person for a long time, or even your entire life, and now it has come to you being lost for words. Wondering what to say in the final minutes can be just as stressful as wondering what to say when you know someone has limited number of months or weeks left due to terminal illness.

When someone is on their death bed


It is common for people to sit by their family members death bed looking overwhelmed, in stunned silence, not being able to the person they love the most in the world. As mentioned, this is totally natural but it may not be ideal as you may want to tell them things or at least bring your loved one comfort with your voice.

One of the reasons why people may find it hard to speak at the site of a deathbed is because they are unsure how close to death the person is. Should they continue chatting as if it were normal, even if the person appears to be in a deep sleep? Or should they opt to pour out their heart by expressing sentiments which they’d always wanted to say but never had the chance to? The fear of not having the chance to say something before it is too late is too much for some people to handle, so they just choose to remain silent.

Recognising the signs of imminent death

Nowadays, people seem to be far more detached from death since we do not see it regularly enough to recognise the signs. Therefore, you should get clued up or ask the health professionals to help you to prepare for the death by pointing out what you should signs you should be looking for. Helping families prepare for unfamiliar physical changes should be a priority held by those who are acting as caregivers – this can be extremely reassuring.

If you can help someone else with the knowledge you do have, that would be great. Letting people know that death is more times than not quite gentle, it should provide a family with a dying family member much comfort in a terrible time. If you were not aware, most people enter a deep sleep or actually become unconscious shortly before they pass away. However, it is encouraged to carry on talking to your loved one and not assume the cannot hear you.

What should you say in their last few minutes?


The answer is pretty simple to this. You should say whatever you want to say to that person to bring them comfort. You should let them know whatever you want them to know before it is too late. Most people choose to express how much they love that person and how you are with them right now. They may not respond because they may not be able too, but having a comforting and familiar voice by their side is the only thing they could ask of you.

It is sometimes the case, say the professionals, that some people who are dying can seem to hold on to life as if they are waiting for a quiet moment of death, alone. Some healthcare professionals advise that the families who are by their loved one’s bedside give their blessing and reassurance to let go, rather than asking them to not leave them. You can approach this by simply holding onto their hand and saying something along the lines of “It is okay, you can let go now and be free of pain.” Some people are rather sceptical of this, but there are plenty of cases where people have died peacefully once they have obtained a sort of ‘permission’ from their loved ones.

Pre-paid funeral plan

If you are worried about the rising price of a funeral in the UK, you could opt for a prepaid funeral plan. This essentially freezes the price of today’s funeral and will relieve you and your family of any financial stress in this department.